Great news for supporters of Abbey Seals Dublin Lions as they wwill play their 2019/2020 season in the Basketball Ireland Men’s Super League.
Their promotion is thanks to a 79-70 point win over C and S Neptune in the relegation/promotion battle held at IT Carlow this evening.
Stunning performances from young stars Finn Hughes and Igor Markiewicz, coupled with a rebounding masterclass from Lions’ American, Conroy Baltimore, saw the Dubliners in the lead from the word go and, despite late pressure from Neptune in the closing five minutes, kept their cool to drive home to glory.
A fast-paced opening quarter saw Muhamed Sabic get Lions’ off the mark early with a big three-pointer that would set the tone for Lions’ offense for the game. Scores from David Murray, Lehmon Colbert and Cian Heaphy kept Neptune’s scoring ticking over, but a spread of scores from Sabic, Baltimore, Igor Markiewicz and Hughes saw Lions into a 25-19 lead at the end of the first. The second quarter followed in the same vein, with an Adam Heaphy basket and a run of scores from Ger Noonan keeping the pressure on Lions inside, but again, sharpshooting from Baltimore, Markiewicz and Hughes saw Lions keep their noses in front at the half time break, 44-33.
A much tighter third quarter followed, with Neptune finding their rhythm inside and Colbert beginning to punish for defensive lapses, while Roy Downey hit a big three to keep the game in the melting pot. Again, Hughes stepped up with a huge three for Lions at the other end, and he added two more in the quarter to see the Dubliners lead 59-52 going into the last.
A nervy fourth quarter followed as momentum began to edge in Neptune’s favour, with Cian Heaphy and Colbert dominating on offense and, as the clock began to tick down, they brought the game back within three points – a huge three pointer from Darragh O’Sullivan leaving the scoreboard at 73-70. That was to be Neptune’s last score of the game though, as big defensive boards from Baltimore helped to stem the tide once more, and scores from Sabic, coupled with free throws from Maguire and Sabic again saw Lions safely home to victory and officially promoted to the Men’s Super League for next year.
“This is massive for everyone, we’re so happy,” said Lions’ boss, Rob White afterwards. “You’ve got to feel sorry for Neptune, they came out to play, and haven’t played a game in a few weeks and yet had us on the ropes in the fourth quarter.”
The squad won’t have much time to celebrate though, he acknowledged, as they now turn around to face into a big Dublin derby on Saturday afternoon when they go head-to-head with Bad Bobs Tolka Rovers in the Men’s Division One League Cup semi-final at DCU.
“This is a big week for us. As competitors we just want to play, we’re a young team, we’re energetic and we’ll run all day. We never worry about games coming too quickly, we’re just happy to play,” he continued. “When you consider we had four Under 20s and Conroy on the floor for a large percentage of the game tonight, it just shows that there’s a big future here – the fact that they could all step up and do that this evening was incredible. We’ll look forward to Tolka now first on Saturday and we need to try and get over them first before we see what the Super League brings.”